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St. Herman's Day Salmon and Pea Pie - spiritual renegades of the St. Herman Brotherhood — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
spiritual renegades of the St. Herman Brotherhood

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St. Herman's Day Salmon and Pea Pie [Dec. 16th, 2008|11:21 pm]
spiritual renegades of the St. Herman Brotherhood
[Current Location |Kiev]
[mood |artistic]
[music |Ukrainian kolyadki]

I remember some of the monks could barely repress a snigger when they called it ‘Frosty’s Christmas’ but they were otherwise quite considerate to those who felt obliged to be with their non-Orthodox families on the 25th of December.  They had the spiritual luxury of being in the snowy woods in their own self contained Orthodox environment, but I wasn’t too jealous because Christmas was always a special time for my family and it was as good a time as any to practice the virtue of shutting up and having a good time with well meaning but uncomprehending family relations. I had been a vegetarian for many years so food issues during the fast weren’t really a problem except that I was one of those ichtho-veggies who considered fish a vegetable and during the Nativity fast, even fish was out. So it was cookies and wine and Harvard beets and no peeking at lists of ingredients lest I find nefarious teaspoons of egg or milk here and there. I don’t think my family would have cared if I ate only celery on Christmas, but there was a certain fatal attraction around things like eggnog and French toast and I could hardly blame peer pressure from my family for lapses into the heterodox Christmas spirit. I usually had a three or four course confession before Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January.  

I don’t think I made the full transition to December 25th = St. Herman’s Day until I was living abroad and there was no one to cater to but myself or my Orthodox companions. In Russia the 25th is an ordinary working day and I often have to work out a way to celebrate the feast of St. Herman, who is not prominent on the Russian Orthodox calendar.   Fortunately, the Nativity Fast is much milder in the Russian church and the nominal rule is that fish is allowed on every day except Wednesday and Friday. The Russians are very relaxed on the oil rules as well, so making a savory St. Herman Salmon and Pea Pie is a perfect way to celebrate this feast during the fast. 

My pie is my own recipe inspired by Fr. Herman and the St. Herman Brothers, who encouraged the tradition of ‘pea pie’ during the original Valaam Academy held on monastery grounds in Platina, California in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The informal catechism of lectures and introduction to Orthodoxy by exposure to monastic life lasted for about two weeks in the late summer. On July 27 (OS – August 9th NS) the Feast of the Glorification of St. Herman (1970) was celebrated with particular flare as it is the only feast day of St. Herman that falls outside a fasting period.  The monks did not have the wherewithal to produce pies – they usually served fish with mashed potatoes and a few peas which Fr. Herman would bless and pronounce to be a pie. Though the kitchen faculties have vastly improved at the monastery since that time, the monks probably still don’t make actual pies. This is my tribute to them and it is my hope that someday, I will be able to make it for them on one of the feasts of St. Herman.

 After living in Russia for some time, it became clear to me that when Russians say ‘pie’ they usually mean ‘piroshki’ which are more like stuffed savory buns. They have the added benefit of not requiring pie pans. This recipe is more for what Americans would call a ‘pot pie,’ a savory filling placed into a smaller, oven-proof dish and topped with a pie crust. I like to make larger pies because they look good on the table. So this is an American interpretation of the St. Herman tradition, which I find fitting because I want to give this gift to my Russian friends as well and it will be a new experience for them.

In most Russian markets, it is possible to get whole frozen salmon very cheap.  The quality is often not so good but if one thaws the salmon for a while to a semi-frozen state, it is quite easy to work with. Removing the spine, fins and any freezer burned portions is easy and the remaining fillets can be easily cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes. I use the bones and less attractive parts to make the broth richer, but adding the fish means you will need to clarify the broth later, which can be difficult and time consuming of you don’t know how to do it. (see comments for actual recipe) 


From: lamesuperhero
2008-12-16 09:33 pm (UTC)

The actual recipe

St. Herman's Day Salmon and Pea Pie

Serves about 4-6 people takes about 1 ½ hours to make.

For the crust:
2 ¼ - 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250 g (8 oz.) margarine (don’t use butter)
½ cup hot water
2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1 egg, well beaten (for non fast periods)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Measure 2/3 of the margarine and cut it into the flour until it is mealy. Completely dissolve the remaining margarine in the hot water. Add the lemon juice (and egg). Mix these liquids into the flour mixture until dough leaves sides of the bowl. Turn on lightly floured board and knead about 1 minute or until all the flour is blended. Wrap in waxed paper, refrigerate 1 to 12 hours. The dough for the crust should be stiff and easy to roll. It is hearty, so roll it as thin as you can – about ¼ inch recommended if you can get it that thin. There should be enough dough to make two 9" pies with crusts or a larger 12” pie and 4-6 pot pie crusts.

For the vegetable stock:
1 lg carrot, peeled and chopped roughly
½ - 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 sm potato, peeled and chopped roughly
1 sm-med tomato chopped roughly
1 stalk celery with greens, chopped
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, whole
3 cups cold water
½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper
1 sprig of fresh thyme
Salmon bones and scraps

In medium saucepan, combine carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, celery stalk +leaves. Add 3 cups cold water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, covered. Add parsley (and thyme) and white wine. Increase heat and simmer for another 8-10 minutes uncovered, or until reduced. Strain soup broth through a sieve. Discard vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set broth aside.

For the Pie:
2 medium leeks, sliced in 1 cm rounds
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup carrots, diced and parboiled with 1 tsp of salt
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled, diced in ¾ inch chunks and parboiled
750 g (1 - 1 1/2 pounds) salmon, (frozen ok) cleaned, filleted and cut into ½ - ¾ inch chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup vegetable stock (see above)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white flour
½ cup strong black tea (or 1 slightly beaten egg in non-fasting times)

Pie Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

In a sauce pan, prepare a vegetarian broth (cheat with bullion cubes or use above recipe).

Roll the pie crust into ¼ inch skin and lay into a 12” inch diameter pie pan with at least a 3 inch edge. You should not need to grease the pan as the crust contains a lot of margarine. If you don’t have this size pan, improvise. It is hard to mess up.

Sauté rosemary in olive oil for 2-3 minutes and remove, increase heat to medium and add salmon and fry for 5-7 minutes, turning once. You may have to prepare the fish in several batches. Remove fish from heat, drain and allow to cool. Carefully remove skin and bones and then cut up into smaller pieces, roughly 1/2 - 3/4 inches. Reserve any oil and fish grease in the pan.

In a large bowl or pot, combine salmon, potatoes, carrots and roasted leeks in a bowl and toss. Using the remaining oil / fish fat in the pan, create a rue with the 2 Tbsp of flour and slowly add 2/3 cup vegetable broth until it is thickened. Pour the thickened broth mixture over vegetable mixture in the bowl – do not over saturate. You may not need all of the broth. Distribute vegetable / broth mixture evenly in the pie shell, making sure it is moist but not soupy. Rinse and drain peas and distribute on top. Roll out remaining dough and make top crust. Use remaining dough to make decorative top motif, a fish or cross.

During fasting times, you can brush top crust lightly with ½ cup tea. This will help the pie form a golden crust. Discard remaining tea. Otherwise, the same technique can be done with a slightly beaten egg.

Bake in 180 C oven for 20 – 30 minutes, until deep brown crust is formed.



(Reply) (Thread)
From: lamesuperhero
2008-12-18 09:42 am (UTC)

Bolognese Potato and Mushroom Pie

I get into making pies and I often want to make a pie on a fast day, so I have this vegan variant that is pretty good. Its not a 'wholesome Mother Earth' pie filled with organic ingredients guaranteed to save the planet and acclimate us to pre-industrial era cooking (where it undoubtedly was made by simple yet egalitarian grandmothers of Italian decent in a clay oven in some communal village baking facility) but it's pretty quick an easy white trash fare. Call it trailer park Italian pie.

Crust (same as above)

For the filling:
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
300 – 400 g white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 x 400 g can of stewed Italian tomatoes (whole or cut)
2 Tbsp pizza seasoning from a package
¾ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ c red wine
½ - 1 cup instant mashed potatoes
Warm water

In a frying pan on medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil until clear, then transfer to a plate and reserve. Sauté mushrooms in 1 Tbsp olive oil, draining the liquid that builds up. Mushrooms should shrink and become slightly browned. Set aside with the onions and garlic. In a bowl, add fresh basil, sautéed mushrooms and onions to the stewed tomatoes (cut up if they’re whole). Add the red wine. To this mixture, add ½ to 1 cup of instant mashed potatoes, depending on the volume you desire, and mix well. You can add some hot water to expand the potatoes if the mixture gets to thick. The filling should be a chunky, spreadable consistency, like mashed potatoes.

Roll out the bottom crust thinly and placed in a lightly greased (cooking spray?) pan. Add the filling. Roll out the top crust and place on top. Pinch the edge together all the way around the pie and tuck it between the pan and the pie, then go around the edge with your finger and press the edge into the pie pan to create a slightly raised edge. You can use a fork to create a decorative patter.

Brush the pie with warm black tea and cut a few holes in the surface with a knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until the crust is evenly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving. The pie should fall out of the form and slice up easily without too much dripping.

Serve with a green salad and wine.

This pie recipe would also go good in a casserole dish with a lattice crust on top or even as a kind of Shepard's Pie - omit the instant mashed potatoes from the recipe and use regular mashed potatoes spread out on the bottom of a pie pan or casserole dish for the bottom crust.

Voila! Nifty white trash cuisine at your fingertips!


(Reply) (Thread)
From: lamesuperhero
2008-12-18 09:50 am (UTC)

Onion and Teriyaki Salmon Pie

Yet another fish-inspired variation - I recently make this pie for my host in Kiev. It has instant mashed potatoes in it, too. This could be a Pacific Rim St. Herman Pie.

Crust (same as above)

For the filling:
200-300 g salmon (frozen ok)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 large onions, peeled, halved and cut into thin semi-circles
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup white wine
¼ - ½ cup water
½-¾ cup instant mashed potatoes
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Clean the salmon and cut into rough 1 inch chunks. In medium saucepan, heat the 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and fry the salmon for about 3-4 minutes, turning gently. Add the sugar and soy sauce (or 1 Tbsp bottled teriyaki sauce - I can't get it so I have to improvise) and continue to fry until done and slightly browned - a total of about 8 - 10 minutes. Set fish aside in a bowl. Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté onions slowly on low heat until soft. Add the wine to prevent burning and water (or more wine!) if needed. This technique is similar to braising and infuses the onions with a rich wine aroma. Add onions to the fish and add ½ cup to ¾ cup of instant mashed potatoes and mix well, adding ½ c cup of boiling hot water (or more) to dissolve the potatoes and render the mixture a more creamy texture.

Place fish, onion and potato mix in bottom of pie shell and sprinkle with parsley. Add salt and pepper as desired. Cover with 2nd pie shell and pinch edges closed decoratively. Cut 6-8 holes in the top and bake at 180 C for about 20- 30 minutes.

This pie is hearty and goes well with miso soup and a salad.

Na Z'daroviye!


(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: createdestiny
2008-12-19 01:47 am (UTC)
You are quite the cook! Sounds fantabulously yummy.

P.S. I thought we could eat fish on the weekends during the Nativity fast?
(Reply) (Thread)
From: lamesuperhero
2008-12-22 01:36 pm (UTC)

Pie Rules


I don't quite remember what the fasting allowances for fish during the Nativity fast are in the US. It seems to me things were more strict - the St. Herman's Calendar would indicate so, anyway.

During the Nativity Fast in Russia, the strict fast days (no fish) are on Wednesdays and Fridays - the opposite of the ordinary rule which says these are fish days.

I think there is an allowance for more fish in Alaska and on other places where it gets butt cold.

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